The gavel was passed to me as the new chair of the Longview Chamber of Commerce Tuesday night by 2011 chair Anne Hugman at the annual Longview Chamber of Commerce banquet at the Maude Cobb Convention Center.
During my remarks, I spoke about the bright future ahead for Longview. We have avoided the terrible economic downturn that many cities now face. Our employment rates are much better than the state and national averages. Our housing market has remained strong. Our Longview Chamber of Commerce was recognized this year as one of the best in the nation -- in fact, we were runner-up for "Chamber of the Year" honors.
Our goals are to build opportunity for businesses to grow and prosper. Everyone wins when our business community can do what it does best -- create jobs. One of our goals is educating small businesses on best practices to help ensure their success. We want to encourage in even the smallest businesses a commitment to continuous improvement. I hope to also work with the Longview Economic Development Corporation this coming year to stimulate entrepreneurship and new business start-ups.
Another goal is to organize a group of city leaders to travel on a visioning trip to another city -- to see first-hand how others have created economic development and improved the quality of life.
Peter Drucker, the late renowned management expert, said the best way to predict the future is to create it. I hope Longview will seize that grand idea in the same way we are seizing it here at the university. We are balancing budgets in today's challenging economy while also making investments for future growth -- looking past today and toward tomorrow with a vision for what is possible.